Fall is quickly approaching, marking the back-to-work and school time of the year. After enjoying weekend road trips, cottage time and relaxing in the summer sun, it can seem like an impossibility to get back to your regular meal prep and grocery shopping habits. Without doing these weekly, an empty pantry and fridge can become a unfortunate reality. It seems a whole lot easier to give into the social temptation or order that takeout when you have nothing to make at home. Scheduling in those grocery shopping and stocking up on convenience items can be the key to getting you on track.
Tips for getting dinner on the table
- PLAN, PLAN, PLAN:
– Take a little time on the weekend to plan your week’s menus and make sure you have all the ingredients that you need.
– Don’t forget to organize some help too – family or roommates can help with meal planning, preparation and clean-up!
- COOK BIG:
– Double or triple recipes and freeze the extras for another day.
- MEAL PREP ON OFF DAYS:
– Precook meat and starches for the week when you are tight for time on a day you aren’t busy, like Sunday night.
- KEEP A WELL-STOCKED PANTRY
- STOCK YOUR FRIDGE AND FREEZER TOO
- HAVE A GO-TO PLACE WITH HEALTHY OPTIONS WHEN STUCK:
-Sometimes we don’t have the option of making food at home and need to grab something on the go. Know the menu at the restaurants or fast food places that you frequent. Look for menu items that are marked as healthier options.
- PICK RECIPES THAT FIT YOUR TASTE AND TIMELINE:
– Check the prep and cooking times listed on any recipes that you choose. There are a lot of quick, healthy recipes out there that also taste great.
- USE CONVENIENCE ITEMS, BUT CHOOSE CAREFULLY:
– Pre-chopped fresh veggies, frozen or canned vegetables are great, and can save you a lot of time. Check is the salad bar to buy the exact amounts you need. Pre-cooked rice or grains are available that just need to be heated for a minute before eating. Just watch out for sodium and fat in sauces.
TOP CONVENIENCE ITEMS TO KEEP ON HAND FOR MEALS IN A PINCH
- Ready-to-use fresh vegetables and pre-cut fruit: Items such as bagged salads, spinach, slaw, squash cubes, and stir-fry mix.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables: Perfect for smoothies, stews, soups, mixed dishes. Try frozen kale, green beans, cauliflower and broccoli for veg or mixed berries for fruit.
- Canned lentils, chickpeas and beans: Legumes can give your meals a protein and fiber boost. If you are not able to find the no-salt added types, simply drain and rinse them under cold water. Use in salads, chilis, stir-fries, mixed dishes or puree to make a sweet cookie dough dip!
- Tomato-based pasta sauce: Choose a brand that has the lowest amount of sodium. Pasta sauce can be used to make pizza, sauce for meatball subs, added to baked potatoes, and mixed with curry paste for a zesty chicken dish.
- Canned salmon and tuna: These will make it easier to enjoy two servings of fish every week. Look for skipjack or “light” tuna on the label. It has less mercury than “white” (albacore) tuna and is generally less costly.
Need some extra help getting organized, structuring your meal plans or just getting on a healthy eating routine once and for all?